USS Hornet (CV-12) – A Father’s Untold War Story (Update October 1942-December 1943)

Posted: August 23, 2013 in History, Uncategorized, World War II
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

In my previous posts, I wrote that my father, Seaman First Class, John T. Ryan enlisted in October 1942 and was received on board of USS Hornet (CV-12) on December 10, 1943.   I didn’t know when and where he reported to boot camp and what else he experienced between October 1942 and December 10, 1943.  This week the copy of his Naval file came in the mail.  It is a lot of pages and many of them are duplicates but I have been able to construct a timeline of the period between enlistment and coming on board the USS Hornet (CV-12).  If you are new to my blog, you may wish to start at the beginning.  There is a link to the introduction on the right panel of the site.  I have also put what I am about to write into the original post where it fits in the order of chronological events.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

Through completing a form and as I am a direct descendant of the veteran, I was able to obtain a copy of his US Navy file.  I have gained a little more information by getting this file.  As stated before, my father, John Thomas Ryan enlisted in the United State Navy on October 28, 1942.  This is actually the date that he reported to the Naval Recruitment Center in Philadelphia.  On October 30, 1942 he was transferred to USNTS, Bainbridge, Maryland.  His rank was A.S., V-6.  (Apprentice Seaman).

SEAMAN–Performs ordinary deck duties in connection with the upkeep and operations of a ship. Stands watch as look-out, telephone talker, messenger, or simillar duty. Member of gun crew.

V-6 — Enlisted men required for mobilization in addition to other classes of Volunteer Reserve.

General View of Bainbridge (Md.) Naval Training Center

General View of Bainbridge (Md.) Naval Training Center

According to my research, this training center had been active only a month when my father arrived.  His commanding officer upon arrival was C.F. Russel, Captain USN.

Bainbridge Naval Training Station, Bainbridge. Capt. Russell's house. Architects: Eggers & Higgins

Bainbridge Naval Training Station, Bainbridge. Capt. Russell’s house. Architects: Eggers & Higgins

United States Naval Training Center, Bainbridge (USNTC Bainbridge) was the U.S. Navy Training Center at Port Deposit, Maryland, on the bluffs of the northeast bank of the Susquehanna River. It was active from 1942 to 1976 under the Commander of the Fifth Naval District, based in Norfolk, Virginia.

Located on the appropriated campus of the Tome School for boys, the training center sat between various important naval centers of World War II: about 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Baltimore, Maryland, and 75 miles (121 km) from Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was reached via Maryland Route 222, about halfway between US 1 and US 40.

Tome School for Boys

Tome School for Boys

The center was activated on October 1, 1942, and the first batch of recruits arrived 10 days later to begin “boot camp” training and indoctrination. They came in busloads from transportation collection points at Havre de Grace and Perryville, Maryland. The recruits were given a battery of tests to determine their educational and skill levels, then trained in indoctrination, ordnance and gunnery, seamanship, fire fighting, physical training, and military drill.

Halfway through boot camp, recruits had a “service week”, which generally included kitchen duty, peeling potatoes, mopping, picking up cigarette butts, etc. Recruits with desirable skills, such as typing, could end up on an office typewriter rather than in a kitchen.

Recruits were also trained in shipboard duties aboard the R.T.S. Commodore, a relatively large “ship” built on dry land. The trainer was equipped with most of the facilities found on a real ship, including deck guns, pilot house, davits with whaleboats, and mooring lines fastened to earth-bound bollards, so that crew members could learn casting off hawsers and other lines connecting the ship to its dock.

Recruits training on the "USS Neversail", USS Commodore (401B), at USNRTC Bainbridge.

Recruits training on the “USS Neversail”, USS Commodore (401B), at USNRTC Bainbridge.



By the end of World War II, the center had trained 244,277 recruits who transferred to various ships and stations throughout the world.

On January 26, 1943 while at the USNTS, Bainbridge, MD, John Thomas Ryan was promoted to Seaman Second Class (S2c, V6).

On February 22, 1943 when my father completed training in Bainbridge, Maryland, he was transferred to the Naval Shipyard in Long Beach, California.

The life of the Long Beach Naval Shipyard began in 1940 when, for $1, the Navy acquired 104 acres of oceanfront on Terminal Island from the city of Long Beach. Later, landfills and dredging increased the shipyard site to 396 acres. It was located at Terminal Island between Long Beach and San Pedro about 23 miles south of Los Angeles International Airport.  It opened in February 1943 with 300 workers.  It was established to repair and refurbish U.S. naval vessels. During World War II, the naval dry docks did routine and battle damage repairs to tankers, cargo ships, troop transports, destroyers and cruisers. It also served as a depot for fuel and supplies for U.S. Navy ships on their way to war or deployment.

On March 20, 1943, Seaman Second Class, John Thomas Ryan was received on board the USS Dashiell (DD659).  According to my research, this would be on the ship’s commissioning date.  According to the US Navy WWII Muster Rolls, he remained on board through October 17, 1943.

USS Dashiell (DD-659) Spring 1943, NA 80G60026.

USS Dashiell (DD-659) Spring 1943, NA 80G60026.

Although my father was only on board for a part of the USS Dashiell (DD-659) war history, here is a little about her.  You can read more about the ship at this link or other internet sources.

The USS Dashiell (DD-659) was a Fletcher-class destroyer of the United States Navy, named for Robert B. Dashiell (1860–1899).  Dashiell was launched 6 February 1943 by Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J.. sponsored by Mrs. R. B. Dashiell, widow of Assistant Naval Constructor Dashiell; and commissioned 20 March 1943, Commander J. B. McLean in command.

In World War II, the USS Dashiell (DD-659) arrived at Pearl Harbor 24 July 1943 to join the Fast Carrier Task Forces for the raids on Marcus Island of 31 August to 1 September; Tarawa, 18–20 September; and Wake Island, 5–6 October. Arriving at Efate, New Hebrides, 5 November, she prepared for the invasion of the Gilberts and was one of the first to enter the lagoon in the assault on Tarawa 20 November. She passed into the lagoon under heavy enemy fire, took up position just off Tarawa’s reef, and opened return fire on shore batteries, enemy strong points and an ammunition dump to aid the troops ashore for three days. Following the cessation of hostilities on Tarawa, the Dashiell was sent to the US’ west coast for an overhaul.

On October 17, 1943, my father was transferred to C.O. RecSta, Pearl Harbor, T.H. FFT.  I don’t know what these abbreviations are but according to the papers from his file, he was granted 8 days leave in accordance with BuPers c/L No. 167-43 and additional orders to report to Recship at San Francisco, California which he did on November 7, 1943.

How did enlisted personnel get from one place to another during the war.  Nothing in the papers says how he traveled from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to San Franscisco, California.  Is it the reason for the leave?  Did the men have to find a means of transport?  If anyone reading this blog has the answer, I would like to know.

On November 19, 1943, my father reported to the station at Newport News, Virginia.  Again, how did he get there, clear across the country?  Was it the Recship mentioned above.  Could a ship get from California, down through the Panama Canal and up to Virginia in twelve days?

  1. Mustang.Koji says:

    From what I have learned over the past six years, troops traveled from assignment to assignment via train if the distance was great. There would be specific hubs where they would stop where organizations like the USO would distribute donuts and coffee…as well as a much welcomed smile from a lady.

    • Anonymous says:

      Also , train was the primary mode, but sometimes could hitch a ride in transport aircraft IF space available. These spots usually filled by those who had priority or those in aviation rates who could work the system. From Hawaii to California would be either passenger on military transport aircraft if priority (unlikely) or whatever ship departing Hawaii heading to his destination

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